Hey there, new to the forums and to poly
To start with, I understand that there are some younger people, but just my overall impression from reading stuff over is that there are definitely fewer people my age (I'm 20) speaking about this stuff online. And I think my youth shapes my situation.
I'd love some feedback or advice. Whatever you might have to share. I've been checking out the forums for about a month and I'm glad to see such thoughtfulness.
: I'm 20, female, a college student, and (until recently) had not specifically defined myself as poly. I had a brush with it at 16-17, when I wanted both my boyfriend and another guy, and had a long-term emotional affair with occasional makeouts (which was cheating and I am not proud of it, but I ended it and came clean). Since then, I've been unfailingly monogamous. I barely even felt crushes outside my relationships, much less ever acted on them.
: I met my boyfriend through a dating website. He's 22 and lives 100 miles away, but I live close to/in a major city, and he drives up to this major city pretty much every weekend, so we've been able to see each other pretty consistently. We started seeing each other in February and defined ourselves as a relationship, specifically a polyamorous relationship, in late March. So we've been "together" 3ish-4ish months.
He was clear on our first date (after we'd already kissed and I was falling hard) that he was poly, and I had a bit of dread, a little of that, "Oh God, what am I getting myself into
" but I am also in a period of my life where there's very little that I am unwilling to try, so I decided to give him a real chance and go for it. I have, so far, been really happy most of the time, he is fantastic, and lots of things have worked out. He is part of a vibrant subculture in this city and I have been quite sucked in, which may contribute to how I feel about him. He has brought amazing-new-exciting things, events, and people into my life, and my life has been changing.
: I've never tried to be openly poly before. And I don't know how well I'm handling it.
As soon as I knew we were getting a little more serious, I started doing my "poly homework," reading up on different articles online, blogs and that Xeromag guy. I know a lot of the vocabulary and have read a lot of stories. But this knowledge is more intellectual than experiential or emotional.
I am...very invested in my boyfriend and this relationship. I don't want to lose him or it. But when he talks about seeing other girls or goes on dates with them, my feeling is a pretty strong fear--fear that he will see how someone else is so much better than me and so he'll decide I'm not worth his time anymore. He hangs out in a subculture, a "scene" full of incredible, interesting, artistic people, and here I am, awkward college student without anywhere near as much creative talent. My boyfriend and I have many things in common but I don't do a lot of the things that he has clearly indicated he admires. I am sometimes/often left wondering why he has any reason to be interested in me, because it's unclear what I add to his life. He has brought such wonderfulness and richness into mine, but it's mostly been about me joining him in this subculture and following him into new experiences and adventures.
I have endeavored to overcome jealousy reactions (and they're not really jealousy... just fear) and tried "thinking poly" myself. I have, in fact, had the chance to kiss someone else from this subculture, another guy who I have some interest in, but not as much as I want my boyfriend. It was nice to have that connection and be guilt-free, and we are going out to lunch soon, but I don't know what would/will come of it.
Here's where there's a problem: I want my boyfriend and I to be primaries. Or think along more involved/less involved lines. I have written long letters to my boyfriend discussing issues of polyamory, and he has essentially rejected most of my suggestions. I did ask that he not form any new partnerships for three months, which he reluctantly agreed to, because I wanted us to "establish" a relationship--something there and concrete for us to have as a base of trust. We're still within that window, but it ends soon and he went on a date tonight with someone who I feel is much closer to all the things he really admires (so my fears are much greater, not focused on her--I've met her and she's really sweet and fantastic--but on the prospect of him deciding he'd rather not deal with me). I have asked, in my letters, for us to have a primary-secondary relationship. It would help me, someone who has been mono but is retrying poly because he's so worth it, feel more comfortable. But he said no, because he didn't want to determine how his other relationships would unfold. I can see this, intellectually, but I feel that if I had a primary/secondary mindset, I could manage those relationships and my emotions ethically and honor that agreement. And I don't see why he would not be willing to try similarly.
He also refused my suggested latex rules, which were that I'd prefer that he practice protected oral sex. (He is scrupulous about condom use for intercourse, every time.) He loves going down on women, has been doing it for years, and flat-out refuses to use a dental dam. I'd be more all right with this if he could be positive of the other woman's STD status, but he wants to also be open to hook-ups at these festivals/events we attend, where you don't have that luxury of waiting for someone to get tested. This risk is a bit scary to me as well, because I've had only one sex partner before him, so if I get an STD, I'm getting it from him. (Unless I add new partners...but I don't even know if that'll happen, as the guy I'm sorta interested in is already in another poly relationship and may not be that interested in a new full partner.)
I feel like my fears are reasonable. But I don't know if my ideas about primary/secondary are silly or demanding, or if I haven't been able to adequately communicate how important that arrangement really would be for me. I've been angsting over this for weeks. I resolutely do not want to feel that I am simply part of a harem or interchangeable. I know that that is not "what poly is about," but I worry that that is how my boyfriend might make it feel for me if he had another girlfriend just as involved as we are.
On top of all this, I'm living at home for the summer and commuting to my internship in the city (normally, at school, I live in the city), so we have fewer options for seeing each other and staying over than during the school year. This is stressful too